Archive for the ‘Stretching’ Category

The Psoas

The Psoas (Greek for loins) is a long muscle that attaches to both the lumbar spine and pelvis. The primary function of the Psoas is to lift the upper leg towards the body.

But did you know that it also helps bend the trunk sideways (lateral flexion) and helps you get up from a lying down position?

It is a key muscle used in running and also helps with movements at the hip joint.

Tightness in the psoas can lead to pain in the lower back as it can compress the lumbar discs when tight. It can also limit your trunk sideways movements when tight.

Irritation of the psoas can lead to groin and thigh pain.

 

Stretching your Psoas

The sequence below shows you how to do this stretch that will let you know if you have a tight psoas but also give your psoas a well-deserved stretch.

The Psoas stretch lengthens the muscles at the front of the hip.

  • To begin, ensure your rear knee is directly under your hip and your front knee is in line with your front heel.
  • Tuck your bottom under and lean forward.
  • For an extra stretch place your hands behind your head and slightly arch your upper back backwards.

More exercises

Click the type of exercise below.

Dynamic Exercises for Runners

Dynamic exercises helps the muscles to stretch through their optimal length and take the joint through a full range of motion prior to doing an activity. For runners we suggest the following sequence of stretching exercises.

 

1. Walk 3-5 minutes – to take joints through a range of motion

– Increases blood flow to muscles
– Stimulates the nervous system that you are ready to run

2. Jog 100m 2-3 times – to increase blood flow to muscles

– Recruits fast twitch fibres

 

3. Lateral swings – to mobilise hip joint

– Swing leg side to side

– Lengthen muscles on the inside outside of the hip

 

4. Karate kicks – to mobilise hip joint

– Swing leg forward and back

– Lengthen muscles hip extensors

5. Dynamic lunge – to mobilise hip knee and ankle joints

– Lengthens muscles on the thigh, hip and lower leg

 

More exercises

Cooling down exercises

 

What can you do to improve flexibility?

improving-flexibility-strive-physioThe good news is you can improve muscle flexibility and joint range of motion through stretching, despite physiological and other factors.

But what type of stretching is best?

Stretching can be grouped into 3 key types and all of these are important in keeping your muscles and joints at an optimum.

Dynamic stretching are slow, controlled movements

Dynamic stretching helps the muscles to stretch through their optimal length and take the joint through a full range of motion prior to doing an activity.

It targets the most intensely used muscles in the activity, increasing their elasticity and as a result reducing injury risk due to muscle sprain/strain. An example would be hamstring swings for runners prior to running.

Static stretchingis where a muscle is held in a lengthened position for 20-30 seconds.

It is ideal for stretching connective tissue and helps lengthen a muscle. It is best to be used as a cool down after an activity. An example is a hamstring stretch after running.

3.  Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF)

Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) is a type of stretching that promotes elongation of muscle tissue.

It aims to optimise the neuromuscular ‘stretch reflex’ response of the body. This involves stretching a muscle passively to its end of range, then either holding or contracting the muscle for 6 seconds, releasing and then stretching the muscle further to a new range, repeating 3-4 times. Yoga and pilates exercises are a form of PNF stretching.

Important to do 3 forms of stretching

To optimise the flexibility of your muscles and joint ROM, it is important to do all 3 types of stretching.

To improve flexibility I recommend …

1.dynamic stretching prior to exercise

2. static stretching after and

3. doing a session of yoga or pilates once a week

Or, make time for a good PNF stretch program once a week to keep you supple.

Tips to remember when stretching

• Always warm up before stretching. Stretching when your muscles are cold could lead to injuries.

• Stretch to the point where you feel some mild tension. You should not feel pain. If you do, stop and release the stretch. Try again in a shorter range, build up to the increased range.

Stretching

  • Does stretching improve performance?
  • Does stretching improve muscle flexibility?
  • Does stretching prevent injury?

Research into stretching shows

  • Static stretching (a holding stretch) before physical activity does not prevent injuries and may make you prone to injuries, and decrease your performance.
  • A dynamic stretching warm-up routine (a moving stretch) is beneficial in many ways – and used regularly is helpful in maintaining flexibility.

Dynamic stretching is best pre-race or pre-game

Dynamic stretching:

  • is a slow controlled movement that takes a joint through a complete range of motion
  • helps promote blood flow to working muscles
  • helps the muscles to stretch through their optimal range prior to working the muscles hard through sport/exercise

Sport-specific dynamic stretching is recommended

Sport or race-specific, dynamic stretching is best as it targets the most intensely used muscles, reducing injury risk further. With more elasticity in the main muscles that you will use during your race, you will likely improve overall performance.

 

 

 

 

 

Static stretching is best used after training or post-race

Static stretching applies a force to a muscle, typically when holding a muscle in one position without moving for 30 seconds or more. It:

  • helps lengthen a muscle, improving flexibility
  • provides a slow, cool-down period for your muscles, helping to reduce soreness

Static stretching is not to be used prior to exercising. Why?

  • Holding a muscle in a stretch position when it is cold and without adequate blood flow can lead to muscle tears.
  • Static stretching causes a muscle to lengthen, it can reduce the ability of the muscle to contract forcefully, impacting on the power that can be produced.

According to the latest research from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning, static stretching can actually decrease muscle strength by up to 5.5% and power by up to 2.8%, leading to an increased risk of injury.

 

To optimise your performance and remain injury free

We recommend:

1. Gentle warm-ups followed by
2. Dynamic sport/race specific stretching
3. Activity/race/sport
4. Static stretching

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